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"Boomers"

11/27/2019 11:56:39 AM

Nov27

Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Just in time your annual Thanksgiving argument, Liel Leibovitz penned an article in Tablet Magazine that places the blame for all of the challenges faced by contemporary Judaism squarely on baby boomers. Rifting on the now popular internet meme “Ok, Boomer,” he accuses boomers as being hypocritical and out of touch. Boomers, he writes, are experts on decrying the Jewish choices that their children fail to make, while at the same time also failing to take ownership for how their own lack of commitment to Judaism may have led to many of those choices.

 

Admittedly, as a pulpit rabbi, his article certainly had its moments of resonance. One of the saddest parts of my rabbinate is when I have conversations with Jewish parents whose children have chosen, for one reason or another, not to carry on the Jewish torch. However, the more I delved into thinking about it, the more I see how short sighted this article was: simply because as a rabbi, I can’t help but think that an overabundance of less connected Jewish boomers could ultimately be good for the synagogue business.

 

The common refrain that I hear in the synagogue world is a growing emphasis on the “young family.” As one such family, I can tell you that I have a personal stake in bringing the next generation of Jews into Judaism. However, let’s also get real for a moment: Boomers have the time (and often the resources) to engage with Jewish life that young families do not. Nearly all of my classes at the synagogue at night or during the day are filled with baby boomers. Our large Adult B'nei Mitzvah class is populated overwhelmingly by boomers. The core of our Shabbat attendance are boomers. Our lay leaders include many boomers. What Leibovitz misses in his article is the positive: which is that boomers--even those who may have failed to raise Jewishly engaged children--are looking to re-engage in living Jewishly. The story of the Jewish boomer’s engagement has not ended.

 

Needless to say, what’s the situation at Etz Chaim with regard to this critical generation? We’re open for business, and business is “booming.”

 

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Thu, February 20 2020 25 Shevat 5780